Monday, November 10, 2014

Chicago Nerds: The Girl With All The Gifts

Good meeting tonight, about a dozen people. I liked M. R. Carey's "The Girl With All The Gifts" (2014) quite a bit, which is saying something--I'm pretty bored of zombie narratives, but this one was well-done. Drew some strong comparisons to the 2013 video game "The Last of Us", Daryl Gregory's 2011 novel "Raising Stony Mayhall", and Jonathan Levine's 2013 film "Warm Bodies".
By the way it's hard to attribute video games these days, isn't it? "The Last of Us" was directed by Bruce Straley and written/co-directed by Neil Druckmann. So, there.

You can see why I wanted the dates on those though, eh? I initially thought this might have been a "Last of Us" ripoff, but after looking at the dates--chances are good all these similar stories were developed independently, based on the timeline at least. Particularly similar is TLOU and TGWATG's use of the same zombie fungus, Cordyceps--but Druckmann credited his idea to learning about the fungus in an episode of BBC's "Planet Earth" aired in possibly where M. R. Carey got the idea as well.

I feel like "fun/squicky/mind-controlly parasites" inspired by actual (and actually horrific) biology are trending higher right now, in general--see for instance Charles Stross's 2012 novel "The Apocalypse Codex" and Michael Wallach's 2012 film "The Bay" and their use of tongue-eaters. Yrgh.

Also there must just be something out in the zeitgeist of "tired of usual zombie stories, do something a little different with it" behind all the works mentioned above.

Something I really liked about "The Girl With All The Gifts" was the coming-of-age angle, particularly the way that the "hunger" of the main protagonist resonated with other kinds of desire--sexual, the desire to fit in, desire for parent figures--all directed towards the same person, and all written very concretely and body-focused.

We had some quibbles with the science of the story, but appreciated a basically-plausible scientific grounding for the zombies--the ending of the book is possibly darker/more catastrophic than it seems if you think about it realistically for a bit. A lot of our group seemed to like the characterization and viewpoint-switching; in fact the POV-shifts as a virtue were specifically contrasted with Andy Weir's "The Martian", where there's a strong argument to be made that the multi-viewpoint approach detracted quite a lot.

I have to say that for a book that combines ant-preying fungi with soldiers & Greek myths, I'm a little bummed that Carey didn't find a way to bring the Myrmidons in somehow.

Read about this meeting, the next meeting, and more wonderful things over at Chicago Nerds.

Book for next time is "City of Stairs" by Robert Jackson Bennett. Monday 12/8, 6:30pm @ Filter Cafe, 1373 North Milwaukee Ave.

All the suggestions this time around sounded great, close vote. The others were:
"Dangerous Women" (anthology) ed. George R.R. Martin & Gardner Dozois
"A Stranger in Olondria" by Sofia Samatar
"Lexicon" by Max Barry
"The Peripheral" by William Gibson

No comments:

Post a Comment